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'Gone With the Wind' celebrates 75 years

May 2, 2011 |  3:17 pm

Gonewiththewind_75th Frankly, my dear, you may not give a damn, but "Gone With the Wind" is about to experience another milestone: the 75th anniversary of its publication in 1936. 

The novel has inspired sequels, official and otherwise (Alexandra Ripley's "Scarlett" in 1991 and Alice Randall's "The Wind Done Gone" in 2001, among others).

Margaret Mitchell's book and the 1939 movie it inspired have been the focus of reams of academic papers and literary analyses, museum exhibitions (and museums), dress-up parties and enough collectibles to restart the economy. It is estimated that the book has sold between 30 million and 50 million copies.

And now, thanks to a significant anniversary, we're about to hear a lot more about "GWTW."

• Publishers Weekly notes that Scribner is "publishing an $18 commemorative trade paperback edition of 'Wind' featuring the book's original jacket art."

• On May 14, the Atlanta History Center's Margaret Mitchell House will sponsor a day of activities, including tours of the apartment where Mitchell lived as she wrote "GWTW," a lecture on depictions of slavery in the book, living history interpreters and dance clinics.

• Extreme fans of the book, otherwise known as "Windies" have big plans, as outlined in a New York Times article earlier this year. They might be going to the Gone With the Wind Museum in Marietta, Ga., which will host "A Tribute to Margaret Mitchell: The Book That Touched The World," June 10-11

• University of Georgia libraries have scheduled a number of events, including a May 6 kickoff for "In a Weak Moment I Wrote a Book," an exhibit featuring letters Mitchell wrote about "Gone With The Wind." (The university says it "cares for the largest collection of personal papers and memorabilia from Mitchell.")

And that’s just for starters.

The book, and its portrayal of slavery, continues to be controversial. In his 2008 book "Calls and Responses: The American Novel of Slavery Since Gone With the Wind," Tim A. Ryan wrote that "'Gone With the Wind' encapsulates the moonlight-and-magnolias image of the antebellum South in its idyllic portrait of Life on the Tara plantation in Georgia, with its benign slavery and contentedly loyal slaves."

And yet.

"GWTW" continues to hold on to a place in the American cultural landscape. Writing in a preface to a 1996 edition of the novel, Pat Conroy wrote: "This is 'The Iliad' with a Southern accent, burning with the humiliation of Reconstruction.... It involves all the eerie mysteries of enchantment itself, the strange untouchable wizardry that occurs when a story, in all its fragile elegance, speaks to the times in a clear, original voice and answers some strange hungers and demands of the Zeitgeist." (Conroy is scheduled to appear on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" Wednesday to talk about the book's significance in his life.)

Will anyone buy yet another edition of "GWTW"? The publisher has ordered a first printing of 40,000 copies of the commemorative trade paperback.

RELATED:

A restored and remastered "Gone With the Wind"

Alice Randall's "The Wind Done Gone"

Pat Conroy will announce the National Book Award finalists

-- Alice Short

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